Sunday, July 15, 2012

the Yuppies are roasting

Justin picked up 2 kilos of Yirgacheffe coffee beans during his travels.  He plopped the big bag on the counter and announced that we needed to roast them ourselves.  My initial thought was to find someone in town who can roast them for us, but Justin insisted that if Ethiopians can do it, so can we.  

And he's right, we found a great tutorial online for roasting your own coffee beans at home on the stove.  It's simple and straight forward.  

We started with a cup of green coffee beans, which smell delightfully like chocolate.  
green Yirgacheffe beans 
Place the beans in a sauce pan with a glass lid on a medium-high burner.  When the lid starts to get a ring of steam we turned the burner down to medium.  Here the beans are starting to yellow.
yellow stage
Most of the process is diligently agitating the beans in the sauce pan every few minutes as they roast.  We turned our burner down to medium low and agitated about every two minutes.
starting to brown first crack
As the beans are roasting you hear a crackling sound as the shucks start to flake off and the beans go through first and second crack stages.  As often as we agitated the beans we had to blow the shucks off.  We held the pot over the sink and blew inside and the shucks would fly out of the pan.  It's messy business.  Our kitchen floor, sink, and clothing were covered in the shucks by the end.  I even had a few stuck in my hair.
the shucks from the roasted beans
We erred on the side of caution for our first roasting session and took the beans off the burner to rest and cool possibly a tad early.  We used a bag of already roasted beans as a comparison to know how dark we wanted to roast our own beans.  In the end our roast was a tad lighter and a bit more uneven than the pre-roasted beans we have purchased here in Ethiopia.  We were really nervous about over roasting the first time.  As we get more accustomed to the process we will probably try to get a darker roast.  We were pretty proud of ourselves to get what we did for the first trial.  I'd call this a medium roast.
Towhead Ladytroupe
We left them to air overnight. In the morning, Justin made the inaugural cup by grinding and French pressing two cups, one for each of us.  It was an extremely complex flavor.  There was a bit of a citrus tang up front and then a deep rich chocolate body.  It was quite possibly the best cup of coffee I've had in Ethiopia.  The Yuppies are roasters now and we've named our blend Towhead Ladytroupe.

The bottom line is that we may not win any coffee tasting awards. The roast was uneven and maybe a tad underdone, but it reinforced the lesson that I've been learning here in Ethiopia.  Homemade is superior-almost every time.  Sometimes things (like roasted coffee beans) seem mysteriously complex in theory but in reality it's very basic, even easy!  It's such a nice revelation to have.  You don't need a fancy drum or temperature gauge; just a pot and a heat source.  Ethiopians have been roasting coffee beans like this forever, and now, so are we!


Anonymous said...

This is awesome!! What a great thing to do as long as you are in Ethiopia! Chris is begging for a post where he can try to make homemade prosciutto. I really do love the Foreign service for the crazy maker things we end up doing.

Sara said...

I honestly was thinking the same thing as we were roasting those beans. We brought up the idea that in no other situation would we have ever tried to roast our own coffee beans. It's pretty darn cool that living overseas allows us unique opportunities.

Prosciutto would be interesting. I'd like to try my hand at cheese making!